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Three Colors: Blue, White, Red [Criterion Collection] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0  Stereo
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: A
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1
  • Studio: The Criterion Collection
  • Blu-ray Release Date: November 15, 2011
  • List Price: $79.95

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BestBuy.com:
CRITERION COLLECTION: THREE COLORS: BLUE WHITE RED -

Purchase Blue White Red on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Films
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Films

[Rating:4.5/5]


Polish director Krzystof Kieslowski created a visionary trilogy of art flims in the mid-1990’s, chromatically titled, Blue, White, Red, the tricolor of the French chevron.  The Criterion Collection has given its imprimatur to the reissue of these three films in “high definition,” although the original prints, being nearly twenty years old may not qualify as the last word in detail or vivid color. The unifying theme here is the director’s realization of three stories that could be viewed as chapters of the same novel.  What binds them together is an intimate focus on interpersonal relationships, although the outcomes vary considerably from one film to another.  Be advised that the pace of these relatively short 90-minute features is quite deliberate. As foreign-language (French and Polish) movies, the momentum of the plots is further reined in by the additional time needed for non-polyglot viewers to read the subtitles. Lest this seem hypercritical, the Harry Potter and Twilight series notwithstanding, nothing comparable in serious cinema has occurred since Colors was released.

Blue

Blue, the color equivalent of liberty, updates the life of Julie (Juliette Binoche), widow of a famous composer who was killed, along with their daughter, in a tragic automobile accident.  While the celebrity of this event is highlighted, there is, from the outset, ambiguity, including the lingering question about who actually wrote the composer’s music. As part of her recovery process, Julie divests herself of her home and material possessions, and rekindles her life as a single woman in Paris. As she enters a voyage of self-discovery and independence, some startling revelations are made, including her husband’s mistress carrying his unborn child, a senile mother who does not recognize her, and an eventual pathway to the future.

White

The sense of White or equality is rather liberally constructed from the embers of an apparent misalliance. A hapless Polish hairdresser Karol (Zbigniew Zamachowski) ends up with a French wife Dominique (Julie Delpy) who divorces him on the grounds that their marriage was never consummated. Penniless, homeless, and tormented by his ex-wife, Karol has himself air-shipped in a trunk back to Poland by his friend Mikolaj (Janusz Gajos).  The convoluted plot has the hero becoming a Euro entrepreneur with the Midas touch whose one remaining desire is to reconnect with Dominique. This tale of conjugality gone wrong is characterized by the adage,  “revenge is a dish best served cold.” At story’s end, Dominique may have gotten her just deserts, but Karol is left spiritually empty.

Red

Red, the color of fraternity, strays more from the fairway than its predecessors in its treatment of this theme. The final installment in the Kieslowski trilogy unites legendary actor Jean-Louis Trintignant (Judge Joseph Kern), star of “A Man and a Woman,” with Irene Jacob (Valentine), a denizen of the demimonde of haute couture.  When Valentine hits a stray dog, she is led into a completely unfamiliar world, fraught with personal intrigue, and spiked by her ambiguous relationship with Judge Kern. The good judge eavesdrops electronically on his neighbors and shares a dark moment of his soul when he rendered a biased court ruling. This film culminates in a boating accident that unexpectedly reunites the protagonists from the two preceding films.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Given the similar time frame of all three films, I was surprised to see considerable variability in the print quality. White suffers the most, with considerable grain in some of the night scenes. On the other hand, both Blue and Red are generally excellent and crisp films. Color palette is also well done, which is important to a set of films based, after all, on colors. What compensates for the unevenness of the detail, is the absolutely gorgeous, loving, and sensuous camera work that is brought to bear on the actors, particularly the female leads. Colors is a very visual trilogy and this point is certainly not lost on the videographers.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

The remastering of the soundtrack results in a clear albeit two-dimensional aural presentation. Given the closely recorded nature of the dialogue and the impressionistic score, this does not detract from the effect of each film. Further, dialogue reproduction will be less important for those not fluent in the native languages of the actors.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:5/5]

Each disc contains a virtual cornucopia of extras, including interviews with director, Kieslowski, a “cinema lesson” from the director, and numerous interviews with those involved with each picture. There are also four short subject Kieslowski films, critical reappraisals and dedicated video essays. In sum, this reflects some of the most intense effort to do justice to a legendary film set and, for this, much credit and thanks is due to The Criterion Collection.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4.5/5]

Blue White Red: Three Colors has been long been regarded as one of the high-water marks of modern European cinema. In this trilogy, Polish director Kieslowski has managed to assemble a strong cast that largely overcomes some shortcomings of story line and pacing.  The terrific camerawork brings the characters very much to life. Along the way, viewers have to accept the artifice of the appropriate color emphasis for each episode, not a major issue, and the dramatic limitation inherent for those not fluent in the film’s native languages who must follow the subtitles. In revisiting these films after a nearly twenty year absence, I was struck by Kieslowski’s innate ability to peer deeply into the human soul and draw out its sometime start and raw essence. In spite of the “personal” perspective flicks of today, we are not getting this type of probing cinema anymore. Highly recommended.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product]B005HK13T0[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
CRITERION COLLECTION: THREE COLORS: BLUE WHITE RED -

Purchase Blue White Red on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Films
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:5/5]

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